Former chief accused of letting buildings burn

Posted at 6:25 PM, Apr 21, 2016
and last updated 2016-04-22 06:47:42-04

New documents released by the City of Naples surrounding the firing of former fire chief Steve McInerny detail an inquiry into claims of questionable actions on his part.

McInerny was fired in March by city manager Bill Moss before the inquiry into the claims, such as the former chief fudging reports, was complete.

Interviews conducted by Vicki Sproat of the law firm  Henderson, Franklin, Starnes, and Holt show that union president Adam Nadelman and others claimed that McInerny told his staff to inflate damage estimates for fires, and even to let them burn. The claims indicate that it was part of an effort to convince Naples City Council to provide the Naples Fire Department with more funding for personnel and equipment.

In one interview, Nadelman is quoted as telling Sproat that McInerny said, "We really need to burn something to the prove to the council that we need more people."

But McInerny told the investigator that Nadelman was probably referring to a mansion fire in the Aqualane Shores neighborhood in June 2015, and said that he did tell firefighters to back out of the blaze because some firefighters were getting hurt.

In a  memo from Moss, the city manager said that the decision to fire McInerny was made because "his management style is no longer suitable in the present environment, considering the current department staff, and the community at large."

He also wrote: "It should not be interpreted as a disciplinary firing."

McInerny was paid a severance of 4 month's salary. The Naples Fire Department is currently headed by interim chief Pete DiMaria.